South Sudan

Germany closes Juba embassy, UN staff flee after one is raped


The German airforce completed the evacuation of about 200 people from the South Sudanese capital Juba on Wednesday including citizens of Germany, the Netherlands and other countries.

Germany has also closed its embassy in South Sudan ‘temporarily’ owing to violent conflict in the capital.

According to the German foreign ministry, the evacuation consisted of four flights of about 50 people each from Juba to Entebbe in Uganda.

Germany’s foreign ministry stated in an article published on its website that the last flight out also witnessed the departure of its diplomatic staff and closure of its embassy.

Johannes Lehne, the country’s ambassador in Juba said, “There was street to street fighting directly in front of the homes of many employees and aid workers… after four days of heavy fighting, which we had to witness up close, there remained no other option but to evacuate.”

The Netherlands, which also has an embassy in Juba, relied on the German airforce for evacuation of 11 of its nationals. Foreign Minister Bert Koenders thanked Germany for its assistance in a statement online and in a message to his German counterpart, saying, “This high-risk operation brought many people to safety. I’m glad the evacuation went smoothly.”

Only a “skeleton staff” remains at the Dutch embassy, according to the government’s official website, including the ambassador, Robert van den Dool.

UN staff flee

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan says that it has told some of its staff to leave the country. UN agencies in the country are doing the same.

“Due to the recent fighting in Juba and subsequent associated operational challenges, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and UN agencies, funds and programs in South Sudan have ordered the temporary relocation of some non-critical staff,” reads a statement from the mission yesterday.

The peacekeeping mission stated, however, that it will continue ‘critical operations’ together with UN agencies, including running the protection sites and relief programs.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman of the UN secretary-general in New York, said that the evacuations would be “temporary”.

Organizations that are part of the United Nations system such as UNICEF, UNDP, WFP, UNESCO, UNAIDS, among others, are likely affected by the order.

Humanitarian airline UNHAS, which is operated by the UN World Food Programme, told customers in South Sudan yesterday that it would operate “relocation flights to Nairobi” today, with the first flight departing Juba at 10:45 a.m.

NGOs and UN organizations wishing to make use of the service have been asked to send the airline a list of staffs whom they want to evacuate. UN Department of Safety and Security will prepare a consolidated list for the evacuation process.

UNHAS advised passengers that luggage weight should not exceed 12 kg per passenger to enable UNHAS take as many passengers as possible.

Staff raped

The spokesman of the UN Secretary-General has reported that some United Nations and NGO aid workers were targeted in recent violence in Juba, where the situation has been mostly calm since Tuesday.

At a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York today, Stephane Dujarric disclosed that one international NGO staff member was raped in Juba during the latest spate of violence.

“The Mission has further received highly disturbing reports [of] targeting of UN and international NGO personnel, premises and assets in Juba allegedly by SPLA soldiers, during the fighting that erupted in the last few days,” he said.

“The reports include allegations of a killing of at least one South Sudanese national working for an international NGO, as well as rapes, including of an International NGO staff.”

No further details were made available about the reported rape. But the killing that he mentioned was likely a reference to the reported killing of a journalist and radio manager who had worked for Internews.

Dujarric added that UN staff members have also been “assaulted,” condemning these attacks in the strongest terms.

“We call on the national authorities to investigate these serious allegations immediately and thoroughly and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Mission is also looking into these incidents, including its own response,” he said.

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